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Gifts of Unknown Things: A True Story of Nature, Healing, and Initiation from Indonesia's Dancing Island
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Gifts of Unknown Things: A True Story of Nature, Healing, and Initiation from Indonesia's Dancing Island

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  220 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Discover the extraordinary island of Nus Tarian, in Indonesia, where everyday reality contains terrifying, inexplicable, and miraculous phenomena. Magical feats, extrasensory perception, and psychic healing are commonplace in this land where the natural and the supernatural coexist and challenge our beliefs about reality.

At once a scientific exploration and an imaginative
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 1st 1991 by Destiny Books (first published January 1st 1976)
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Apr 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Magic, Anthropology, Indigenous Religion
It is hard to believe that this story is true, but even harder to believe that Watson made it up. It is a haunting, beautiful, captivating book that opens up the vistas of human experience shut off to us by religion and modernity.
Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's hard to forget some of the spiritual messages conveyed in this story of one man's time spent among the isolated island natives of Indonesia. The fascinating thing is that these truths are the same facts which are known to all quickly disappearing native cultures around the world. People which live in a traditional spirit based way, at one with nature, seem to have the ability to gain valuable insights about life from their dreams and even precognitions. Something which modern man can no lon ...more
Dec 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my favourite book of all time when I read it in 1976. I reread it over the last few days to use some quotations in a journal I was making an entry in, and it is still my favourite book of all time. I didn't get on with most of Lyall Watson's books, but this one and Lightning Bird ahd enough story running through to hold my attention, and the story it weaves is magical. I liked the ants that track across the pages too. I don't want to give any of the story away, so I'll just say, if you ...more
Fred Mindlin
Mar 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Extraordinary tale of transcending preconceptions
Aug 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Nov 05, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Penney Peirce
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely book! An early inspiration in my own work.
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It took me months to finish it. Not because it’s a hard to read book, but because I feel the urge to understand every single words on it and jumped to a dictionary once I met new vocabulary. Since English is not my first language, I normally just skipped the word I don’t recognize in a book, as long as I understand what the sentence meant.

But this book is too engaging to have the same treatment.

My first reaction when I reached the last page was burst into tears. God knows what brings me to tha
Jan 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This book was so interesting and engaging, I had a hard time putting it down. I'd never heard of Lyall Watson before, but I happened to receive this in a BookCrossing trade. Now I'd like to learn some more about him... I know he's written several other books, so I might have to hunt them down.

(Hehe... I just got an odd mental image of myself dressed in Amazon Warrior attire, bow and arrow at the ready, on the trail of wild books)

Apparently Watson is a biologist who writes about science as well
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
While exploring the uncharted islands of the Javanese Atoll, Dr. Watson's boat is unexpectedly caught in a typhoon of incredible ferocity. When the storm abated, Dr.Watson and his crew discovered they had been carried nearly four hundred miles off their original course. With their boat badly damaged they headed for the first land they saw and discovered not only a refuge from the sea, but an island whose inhabitants possess an exceptional connection to the environment that surrounds them. Here w ...more
Jun 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of the most interesting books I have ever read. Tia is an unforgettable character. Watson is a brilliant and talented writer. This book is the kind of blending of science and mysticism that I LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! I especially loved it because it took place in Indonesia. If anyone can recommend similar books, please leave comments!
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this book. There were a couple of slowish parts but it is mostly a nice combination of anthropological, biological, and paranormal observations and experiences. From the two books I've read by Watson so far, he wrote from a balanced and grounded perspective, about some really fascinating and spectacular things (some more widely accepted than others).
Sarah Cartwright
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Had me in the first view pages, with the collective squid confrontation. Who else could turn this into a near mystical digression beyond what we think we know about these inhabitants of the deep?... what I love about such rare writers, who push through their disciplines into the outer reaches of human experience.
Sep 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!!!!
this is hands down, for all time, my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE book. it's a beautiful story set on a tiny indonesian island. it predates whale rider, but has that sort of story line and feel - only it's a true story.
Aug 17, 2008 rated it liked it
My daughter told me to read this book. I have not finished. I want to savor every page. Makes me look at rocks totally different.
Oct 17, 2008 rated it liked it
Squid eye.
I wonder if this stuff could be true...good book.
May 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
one of my favorite books. visually tantalizing descriptions and thoughts, vivid, gorgeous, exotic, and relevant.
Dec 12, 2013 marked it as to-read
Jennifer's favorite book
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the phenomenal sequel to Supernature, and yet another inspiring collection of odd tales and modern research.
Lisa Tansey
Jul 08, 2007 rated it liked it
Kind of strange and beautiful. Alleges to be a true story; comes off as fantasy and naturalism.
Derek Baldwin
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
More Supernature, this time with a stronger anthropological/cultural perspective.
Harry Owen
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A life changer. 'Brilliant' is not too strong a word for this marvellous book.
Mar 13, 2009 added it
Shelves: the-top-shelf
Have given dozens of copies of this book to all sorts of people over the last 25 years
rated it it was amazing
Jun 23, 2009
Ashley Beldon
rated it really liked it
Sep 04, 2007
Ron Wood
rated it it was amazing
Jan 15, 2013
rated it really liked it
Jan 03, 2016
rated it it was ok
Sep 10, 2007
rated it it was amazing
Feb 11, 2016
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Lyall Watson was a South African botanist, zoologist, biologist, anthropologist, ethologist, and author of many new age books, among the most popular of which is the best seller Supernature. Lyall Watson tried to make sense of natural and supernatural phenomena in biological terms. He is credited with the first published use of the term "hundredth monkey" in his 1979 book, Lifetide. It is a hypoth ...more
More about Lyall Watson...

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“Dancing is surely the most basic and relevant of all forms of expression. Nothing else can so effectively give outward form to an inner experience. Poetry and music exist in time. Painting and architecture are a part of space. But only the dance lives at once in both space and time. In it the creator and the thing created, the artist and the expression, are one. Each participates completely in the other. There could be no better metaphor for an understanding of the mechanics of the cosmos.” 48 likes
“We try to abolish intervals by our manic insistence on keeping busy, on doing something. And as a result, all we succeed in doing is destroying all hope of tranquility.

... . You have to learn to immerse yourself in the silences between.”
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